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Friday, October 31, 2008

Functional Threshold Power (FTP)

Cycling and training has certainly become more sophisticated / complicated over the years. Whatever happened to riding a bike based solely on perceived effort? Having a pulse watch back in the 80s was considered cutting edge technology. Now we have power meters and GPS devices, interpreting data is like being in a Physics class once again.

As mentioned earlier, I am now delving into training with a power meter. Today (10/31/2008) I will be doing a Functional Threshold Power (FTP) test on a spin bike. FTP is basically your Anaerobic Threshold level or Lactate Threshold. Chris Carmichael calls this test the Carmichael Training System field test (CTS).

I did the CTS field test at home last month, hopefully it was done correctly since it was my first time messing with power. Basically you warm up and then you ride as hard as you can for two 8 minute periods with a prescribed rest duration between the efforts, this data is then averaged out. Below are my training power & heart rate ranges determined from the test data.

Power ranges:
-Tempo - 148 to 156 watts
-Steady State - 157 to 165 watts
-Climbing Repeat - 174 to 184 watts

Heart rate ranges:
-Tempo - 152 to 157 bpm
-Steady State - 159 to 164 bpm
-Climbing Repeat - 164 to 169 bpm

To double check the data above (which seem a bit low) I am going to do the Functional Threshold Power test as described here. Below is a summary of what has to be done.

-20 minute warm up at about 65% max heart rate.

-3 x 1 minute fast pedals at 100 rpm with 1 minute rest between efforts.

-5 minute easy at 65% max heart rate.

-5 minutes all out.

-10 minutes easy at 65% max heart rate.

-20 minutes time trial, gradually build up to speed and hold it pushing very hard last 3 minutes.

-10 minutes easy at 65% max heart rate.

-10 minutes cool down at easy pace.

The average power in the 20 minute segment above (high lighted in red) will be my Functional Threshold Power, this would be the base line from where my training levels will be determined and improvements monitored.

I have been lifting weights now for about one month - currently in the Strenght Training phase with heavy weights and low reps. The soreness has diminished from the earlier weeks of weight training - doing this FTP test should not be adversely affected by sore muscles, but I am not looking forward to doing a 20 minute time trial.

Technically the test should be done for 60 minutes to get a more accurate number. Since this test has to be repeated over time then it was broken down to 20 minutes to prevent riders from dreading the test, 5% is subtracted from the number to compensate for the shorter duration.

See data and results here.

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